Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute. He is a professor of Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, and Contracts at the National Paralegal College, a counselor at the American College of Education, and a founding board member of Salt and Light Global. Washington is a co-host of "Joshua's Trial," a radio show of Christian conservative thought. A graduate of JohnMore ↓Less ↑
Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
Chapter 13 of Dr. Benjamin Wiker’s opus, “10 Books that Screwed up the World,” has a remarkable critique of “Coming of Age in Samoa” by the anthropologist Margaret Mead. This secular scripture of the left is a logical fallacy created out of whole cloth in the mind of a young graduate student in anthropology who in 1925 sailed to the island of Tau in American Samoa. According to Wiker, Mead’s work in essence explained “how the pansexual paradise described in ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ turned out to be a creation of her own sexual confusions and aspirations” – a Freudian psychological projection she wrote with fanatical zeal as a curse upon American society.
To the extent that Mead’s work was immediately and universally heralded by the academy and throughout progressive, socialist and liberal circles was not only an affirmation of the hedonistic times of the “Roaring Twenties” and the Jazz Age when the book was published, in 1928, Mead’s propagandistic attack against the Judeo-Christian sexual morality of the West by slandering the Samoan culture more pointedly is a prophetic utterance of the even more revolutionary times to come during America’s sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, from which the nation has never recovered.
That Mead used fraudulent methodology in gathering “facts” from primitive myths to suit her philosophical bias is shared by pre-eminent philosophers of the past. For example, Thomas Hobbes’ “Primitive Man” painted a grotesque picture of our natural condition based completely on a myth he created. Rousseau and Freud built upon Hobbes’ “Primitive Man” myth. All these men in essence shamelessly interjected their own personal policy perversions dressed up as trenchant philosophical reasoning and evidence to argue that human nature was best understood in man’s primitive state. Their fundamental supposition can be stated in the simple principle: the natural = the primitive = the good. Whether the savage be good or evil, a mischievous child or a brutal beast, he was the original Adam in the Garden of Eden in whose image our nature was originally created, and in whose image humanity must redeem itself by deconstructing all vestiges of civilization.
Was Mead a dispassionate, serious scholar, or did she have an agenda? Allegedly, she traveled to Samoa to discover whether “rebellion against authority, philosophical perplexities, the flower of idealism, conflict and struggle” were “difficulties due to being an adolescent or to being adolescent in America.” In other words, was adolescent angst and anarchy a natural phenomenon or purely a Western Christian aberration? Her real goal, according to Wiker, “was to convince the West that the rigors of Christian sexual morality were unnatural, and that its anxiety-producing inhibitions are something we’d all be happier without.”
Besides projecting her own perverse sexual proclivities upon the hapless Samoans, Mead was championing a radically new approach to education. “Education for Choice” for Mead meant to reject any importance of fundamental belief, and whose fundamental belief was that there was no fundamental belief. Echoing the infamous ideas of progressive education guru John Dewey, Mead famously wrote, “The children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
Mead’s solution: Since we cannot go back to an agrarian society and Puritanical values, we can adopt the Samoan carefree attitudes about all things sexual into our culture; to free American society from the chains of morality and create a generation who would “tune in, turn on and drop out,” as SDS leader Timothy Leary notably said in the 1960s. If Shakespeare wrote, To each his own, then, Mead argues, how can there be a right if there is no wrong, and how can there be a wrong if we can find no one that can be definitively right?
In 1983, five years after her death, Mead’s scientific fraud was exposed to the world by anthropologist Derek Freeman who argued that “the main conclusions of ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ are, in reality, the figments of an anthropological myth which is deeply at variance with the facts of Samoan ethnography and history.”
Later another anthropologist, Martin Orans, was even more direct. Orans asked: “How could anthropologists and other eminent scholars have largely ignored such blatant defects? How could generations of university professors have included CA as required reading for students? How could such a flawed work have served as a steppingstone to fame?” The answer to the first, Orans reasoned, is “ideological.” “We wanted Mead’s findings to be correct. We believed that a more permissive sexual code would be of benefit to us all,” Orans wrote. More importantly, her findings were a coup for progressive intellectuals, liberal politicians and for Marxist academics who believed in solving human problems by Marxist social engineering and biology based on Darwinian evolutionary theory.
Mead presents a classic illustration of the power of ideology (manipulating truth to what we happen to desire) over philosophy (the love of wisdom) in creating an existential pseudo-science methodology. As Orans makes obvious, the craving to generate a sexual revolution created a perfect storm in the secular minds of the progressive academy and in the minds of all too many very intelligent scientists who should have known better but nevertheless accepted and praised Mead’s work without putting it through the standard rigors of the accepted canons of science. Had they analyzed Mead’s work even on a perfunctory level, perhaps progressive scientists and academics would have deduced that her scientific research, arguments and conclusions were filled with holes and fraudulent misrepresentations. But they wanted it to be true.
On Jan. 19, 1979, President Jimmy Carter announced that he was awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Mead.
The Occupy Wall Street movement consists of the unwashed hordes of unreconstructed ’60s hippies, gay activists, anarchists and youthful savages defecating in parks and squatting in public squares across America, fomenting anarchy, committing vile sexual and lewd behaviors in broad daylight and turning liberty into license with the blessings of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The protesters are in a sense legions of little Margaret Meads – the glorification of “Primitive Man,” the psycho-sexual fruit of her pseudo-scientific book, “Coming of Age in Samoa.”